Caribbean must put authentic image on culinary map

The Caribbean is becoming a “hot commodity” worldwide in many areas, including its culinary culture, but at least one local chef is concerned about how the region is being represented.

“When I watch shows on the international cooking channels promoting Caribbean recipes, I am seeing too much bastardization of our culture,” says founder of Caribbean Cuizine, chef Peter Edey.

“For example, I saw one show where someone was preparing cou-cou with whole corn and cutting okras in half, and saying that was how it was done in Barbados. I grew up in Barbados and never prepared cou-cou like that!”

Edey was speaking at the launch of the fourth annual Caribbean Junior Culinary Conference, which is taking place this week. The event will also see the launch of the Caribbean Culinary Alliance, which, according to Acting CEO of the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA) Terry Vanterpool-Fox, “will help develop our youth and upcoming chefs and give them opportunities to gain greater insight into this diverse industry”.

Edey says part of that process will be developing new teaching materials promoting the use of agricultural produce indigenous to the Caribbean.

“The techniques will be the same, but instead of learning how to julienne what we call English potatoes, they will learn the
same thing using sweet potatoes, yam or breadfruit. After all, it is not likely a Caribbean student will encounter turnips and mushrooms too regularly in their home country,” he explained.

The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA) representative in Barbados, Dr Ena Harvey said the Caribbean Junior Culinary Conference and the Caribbean Culinary Alliance would foster closer ties between the tourism and agriculture sectors.

“Our food import bill is astronomical and we can reduce this by promoting that want and need for our cuisine and branding it. As we promote more events of this nature, it will give our farmers and local processors
greater market access, as well as promote community growth, keep land in agriculture and stimulate entrepreneurship opportunities,” she said.

The Caribbean Junior Culinary Conference will comprise three days of workshops at the Dining Club’s headquarters in Newton, Christ Church, and the Caribbean Junior Duelling Challenge will be held on August 24 and 25 at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre where it will be an added attraction to the CARIFESTA exhibition taking place there.

Source: by David Hinkson

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